Updated on 09/15/2011 1:24PM

Who will get the Derby distance?


LAS VEGAS - Although the Breeders' Cup Juvenile has yet to produce a Kentucky Derby winner, the talk at this time of year invariably centers on next year's Triple Crown.

There's little doubt that Juvenile winner Johannesburg will be named champion 2-year-old, but is he really Kentucky Derby material?

An examination of the pedigrees of the top five finishers in this year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile raises some questions:

JOHANNESBURG (Hennessy-Myth, by Ogygian): A member of Hennessy's second crop, his victory in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile was authoritative as well as noteworthy since it was his first time on dirt and beyond six furlongs. Johannesburg is undefeated in seven starts, and winning four Group or Grade 1 races in four different countries (England, France, Ireland, U.S.) is unprecedented.

While Hennessy is making a mark for himself as a sire of turf runners, his offspring are naturally at home on dirt. Hennessy raced only at age 2, when he won the Hopeful,

Sapling, and Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes. He finished a neck behind Unbridled's Song in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and was second in the Hollywood Prevue Breeders' Cup Stakes.

Although Johannesburg looked comfortable winning at 1 1/16 miles, it is unlikely that he will be as effective at the Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles. Hennessy is a speed influence, and damsire Ogygian was a stakes winner at middle distances but offers little in the way of stamina.

In rare instances, horses can overcome distance limitations through the immense class of their female family, and Johannesburg does indeed possess high quality. Johannesburg may be able to win at 1 1/8 miles, but 1 1/4 miles may be just beyond his limit.

REPENT (Louis Quatorze-Baby Grace, by Cipayo): From the first crop of Preakness Stakes winner and Breeders' Cup Classic runner-up Louis Quatorze, Repent is bred to be better at 3 than he was at 2, and that's significant. Repent made a prolonged bid in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and finished well to be second, 1 1/4 lengths behind Johannesburg.

Repent also has considerable class in his female family. His stakes-placed dam, Baby Grace, is a full sister to Cacao, a group winner in Argentina, and she is also a half-sister to multiple stakes winner Sierva and stakes winner Sabato. Repent is a half-brother to King Ruckus, a champion sprinter in Canada, and Johansson, who was group-placed in Ireland. But the similarity between brothers end there. While King Ruckus is by brilliant speed influence Bold Ruckus, Repent gets stamina from his sire, Louis Quatorze, and he should be effective at 1 1/4 miles.

SIPHONIC (Siphon-Cherokee Crossing, by Cherokee Colony): With only two starts under his belt, Siphonic's third-place finish while racing on the dreaded dead rail in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile was impressive. He inherits his speed from his sire, Siphon, who was a champion at 2 in Brazil.

Siphon was imported to the U.S. at 4, where he won the Sport Page Handicap and finished second in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap. At age 5, Siphon was able to stretch out and win at 1 1/4 miles, capturing the Hollywood Gold Cup. He also finished third in the Pacific Classic Stakes, behind Dare and Go and Cigar. Siphon won the Santa Anita Handicap at 6, and finished second in the Pacific Classic, Hollywood Gold Cup, and Dubai World Cup.

Siphonic has plenty of stout influences in his pedigree (Siphon, Cherokee Colony) and should be able to handle longer distances as he matures.

PUBLICATION (Petionville-Cat News, by Storm Cat): Publication also raced only twice before the Juvenile, winning a maiden race at Bay Meadows and then capturing the Arlington-Washington Futurity in his second start. Showing speed in those two races, Publication was last of 12 horses after a half-mile in the Juvenile, approximately 14 lengths behind the leaders, and closed with a flourish on the far outside to finish fourth, beaten only 3 1/4 lengths. His sire, Petionville, won at 1 1/8 miles and is inbred to Buckpasser, a major source of stamina. Publication's pedigree includes the names of Private Account, Sir Ivor, and Round Table, and his female line is a renowned Claiborne family. His third dam is a half-sister to Edge (the dam of Boundary) and Trestle (the dam of stakes winners Classy Cathy, Ms. Margi, Testy Trestle, Top Trestle and Sports View). There is reason to believe that Publication should handle 1 1/4 miles.

OFFICER (Bertrando-St. Helens Shadow, by Septieme Ciel): Officer was precocious and more advanced than his contemporaries for most of the year, but was exposed as a miler in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Officer's pedigree is heavily dotted with speed influences (Bertrando, Septieme Ciel, Raise a Man, and Ack Ack), and not much stamina.

With five crops to race, Bertrando is a pronounced speed influence and his runners are most effective up to 1 1/8 miles. Bertrando and Ack Ack were able to harness their speed and only won at 1 1/4 miles as mature, older runners. Septieme Ciel was a miler in Europe and Raise a Man is strictly a speed influence.

Officer may be a prime contender for the Metropolitan Handicap, but he's not bred for 1 1/4 miles, at least as a 3-year-old.